This is a short tale about Eric’s grandmother, a cruise and a basket. When Eric’s grandmother, Dorothy Taylor, passed away, she left him a basket that he treasures. Dorothy, who was not a basket maker, accompanied Eric’s father and his partner Martha, who were teaching basketry, on a basketmaking cruise in the winter of 1993. Also along for the ride was basketmaker Stephen Zeh and his wife. At that time, it was early in Stephen Zeh’s career and Dorothy was happy to purchase one of Zeh’s baskets on this cruise. I might add that this cruise was almost a disaster since it occurred during the Blizzard of ’93. Many people were having a hard time arriving at the port before the ship left, including all of the people I mentioned above. Luckily, they all made it.
But that is not what makes this basket interesting and special to Eric. Nor is it because she purchased it on this cruise from Zeh. Instead, it has a story etched in it, like so many baskets do. And this one involves a man.
Dorothy’s husband died in the late 70’s. She never remarried and was never seen with another man until this very cruise. After almost twenty years, she found herself a gentleman-friend and invited him to go on this trip with her. A brave woman. Now we’ll get to the basket. On the bottom, Stephen Zeh’s signature and #20 are burned in. Also on the bottom, Zeh wrote “Made for (gentleman’s name) and Dorothy Taylor.” Why do I not have the man’s name you ask?
Well, as it turned out, Dorothy’s gentleman-friend ended up being a total loser! Which I found a little depressing. I was single and dating for quite awhile before I met Eric and I sure had my share of numerous losers! I was becoming immune since I didn’t recognize they were losers even when they were sitting right in front of me! Not to mention after dating them for a few months as well. (I’m eternally grateful to my friend Karen who came to my rescue for many of these blind-moments and helped me clear the fog.) I now question, disappointingly and with disbelief, you can still attract losers in your 70’s? And Dorothy was a smart, wise woman! I better ensure that Eric outlives me.
Okay, enough about me and my old ‘loser-magnet habit’ and back to Dorothy. She had a problem because she really liked this basket but did not want to be reminded of this guy. Especially a loser of a guy. So she did what any of us foolish girls would do. She simply scratched out the man’s name on the bottom with a burning pen! So we could not read it. As the story goes, Eric learned (and what he remembers) is that this old-loser-friend disrespected her the whole cruise and started to show his mean-spirited side. Being the self-respecting woman that Dorothy was, there was no way she would put up with that! So upon returning home, she ended their friendship. And Eric gets a kick out of telling this story when anyone asks, “Why does that basket say the Blizzard of ’93”?